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Pair arraigned for extensive human trafficking operation

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BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- A Medford woman and a Woburn man were arraigned Tuesday following their arrest for allegedly running an extensive human trafficking operation spanning multiple communities, including Bedford, Billerica, Medford, Reading, Wilmington, and Woburn.

Xiu J. Chen, 32, of Medford, and Ronald Keplin, 57, of Woburn, pleaded not guilty in Somerville District Court on charges of human sex trafficking, deriving support from prostitution and keeping a house of prostitution.

Keplin and Chen were arrested Monday without incident. Chen was taken into custody in Reading, and Keplin was taken into custody in Woburn.

The arrests are the result of an investigation by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General's Office, various federal agents, and local police departments into allegations of human trafficking and prostitution in multiple Massachusetts communities.

Authorities alleged Chen and Keplin operated six businesses that were portrayed as massage parlors, but were in fact fronts for an extensive human trafficking operation. The businesses are: Bedford Asian Bodywork in Bedford, Shrine Spa also known as Billerica Bodywork, Mystic Health Center in Medford, Body Wellness Center in Reading, Body Language in Wilmington, and Asian Bodywork in Woburn.

During the course of the investigation, authorities developed evidence indicating that Chen and Keplin coordinated the recruitment of women from across the eastern seaboard, including New York. They allegedly advertised sexual services on websites known to advertise prostitution, set up appointments for sexual encounters for the women, and managed the financial aspects of the organization. They also allegedly arranged for overcrowded housing for the women and facilitated the daily transportation of the women to and from the businesses.

The investigation remains ongoing.

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